Not that long ago, dating was a completely different affair. People had to meet up in person and figure out whether they like each other. Being praised or slammed by others was considered a way to review whether someone is fit for you. You were always finding out something new about the person when you meet, turning everything into an adventure. Unfortunately, sometimes not with a happy ending.
Now we have smartphones, apps, social media, and an improved set of rules on how to behave that should’ve made dating easier. In reality, they didn’t. The circumstances are different for dating and relationships in the digital age, but somehow the game is still the same.
Ones and zeros of love
A 2020 study about cyber-intimacy found that the digital sphere has become an integral part of dating and relationships in this day and age. The study suggests that three stages of a relationship are heavily influenced by cyber-intimacy (also referred to as digital intimacy), being started, maintained, and resolved through digital means.
Namely, you will most likely research the online presence of potential partners before asking them questions in person. Or you will post pictures of the two of you on social media declaring how in love you are. When a relationship ends, chances are high that you will spy on your ex’s profiles to see what they are up to after the breakup.
Many people feel more comfortable being their true selves when communicating via digital means than in person. But, some may find it a perfect way to manipulate and hide their bad sides. However, that was always involved when dating, only digital media made it easier to express or uncover, depending on how big of a detective you want to be.
The good sides of dating in the digital age
Finding a partner comes easier to some than others, so being able to start a conversation online has given the shy ones a way to do so. “Sliding into the DMs” is synonymous with making the first move when you like someone. Marginalized groups can more freely and comfortably meet people, for example, by creating profiles on gay dating websites or using all-inclusive apps.
The digital environment also created an ideal space to declare being in love, married, in a relationship, or how much you love another person. This public exposure is part of the relationship maintenance that can positively contribute to your bond. In most cases, you can find out a lot about people through their profiles, especially if you have the same acquaintances and friends.
If anything, it allows couples to stay in touch in various ways, both publicly and privately. More importantly, it gives people a choice of how they will behave in a relationship, helping them define boundaries from the start.
The bad sides and how they change us
A couple of decades ago, chat software, like AOL and ICQ, was one of the ways to meet new people and potential partners, as well as message boards and mailing lists. At the time, it was popular not to use your real name, but to come up with cool nicknames and avatars. Those provided anonymity and a sense that you are free to do whatever you otherwise wouldn’t, like sending nude images.
NSFW content never gets old and you will receive those today or send them to someone. The difference is that with widespread connectivity, the recipient can publish those online and expose you without your consent.
Among other bad aspects is spying on your partner by going through their phone or even profiles if you know log-in information. This mistrust comes from the fact that people spend a lot of time on their phones when together, making their partners feel unworthy or neglected. Many find this to be a deal breaker and end a relationship, or at the very least start thinking that way.
Some even spend days and months, even years, checking up on their ex-partners when they should’ve moved on a long time ago. Instead of closure, constantly following an ex can prevent a person from having a relationship with someone else and be consumed by jealousy.
Everything has good and bad sides, and so do dating and relationships in the digital age. It may be hard to resist the temptations the online environment offers, but once you figure out what suits you, navigating it can be a breeze. Just keep in mind that as long as all parties involved feel comfortable with how a relationship is developing, it may have a chance to last and be joyful.